Program InformationProgram: Hollywood: Richmond's Garden Cemetery
Segment Number: 11 (Watch entire program)
Year Produced: 2004
By 1910 Edward Valentine set aside his career as a sculptor and spent the last twenty years of his life researching the stories and history of Richmond. Today his name is perhaps better known locally for his work with his brother's museum, than a lifetime of work in sculpture.
Richmond boasts a cemetery, named Hollywood because of the natural proliferation of holly trees on the grounds, whose history, beauty and tranquility have made it a local treasure. Hollywood Cemetery lives out its original intention for the living and the dead. It is a mature green space with a commanding view of the James River that serves the public as a natural retreat within the confines of the city. It is the final resting place for two U.S. presidents, the only confederate president, several confederate generals, a Supreme Court justice, writers and local celebrities - as well as many people who are not famous at all. In addition to its legendary status in Richmond and beyond, Hollywood remains a working cemetery.For more information visit: http://ideastations.org/hollywood
Visitors find artistic statues placed throughout the cemetery. Near the grave of James Monroe people are often drawn to a stone figure of a kneeling woman. Her body is cloaked from head to toe and her face is buried in her arms. She mourns the dead beneath her.
This monument, titled Grief, is easily recognized as much more than a typical gravestone. It is also the only gravestone created by Richmond sculptor Edward Valentine.
“Most of the folks who were having headstones carved or markers made for the cemetery would not have commissioned them from an artist like Edward Valentine, and they would have been much simpler. Valentine’s work in general included a lot more of these types of figures.”
“Edward Valentine was born in 1838 to a middle class family here in Richmond and Edward was the youngest of seven children.”
“As the youngest child he had the luxury of exploring his interests perhaps more than his siblings and in the late 1850s traveled to Europe to study art and spent quite a bit of time in Germany to study with a fairly well known Sculptor at the time named August Kiss.”
“He had been there throughout all of the years of the civil war. Ultimately though his father died in 1865 and that’s what brought him back to Richmond.”
“He returned to a city that had just recently suffered a long a terrible time which concluded with a major fire in the city and so conditions were very hard and would not have been an easy place for an artist to try to find work when people were certainly more concerned with where they would find food, water, shelter and more important things.”
“The bread and butter of his career really were portraits in general.”
“Within the body of work that he completed in his life, Edward Valentine sculpted portraits of many Confederate figures but also sculpted portraits of many other people as well.”
“They come in fairly steadily and while they’re not exceedingly large commissions it’s sort of what keeps you in work.”
“On the other hand, projects that were perhaps more meaningful to him, the more artistic works if you will, would have been the ones that were more near and dear to his heart but were not the works that sold.”
“He received the commission to do the recumbent Lee, the life-size figure at the chapel at Washington and Lee University.”
“That was really in many respects his big break.”
“Little references appeared in Richmond Newspapers quite frequently about projects that Valentine was beginning work on or had just recently completed work on, and so the public was invited routinely to come by the studio and take a look at the work.”
“Valentine’s studio became such a popular destination that visitors to the studio came from all over the world and many famous names today are listed on the guest register: Oscar Wilde, Woodrow Wilson, the daughter of Queen Victoria. There was a steady stream of people coming to see him as he worked.”
“Edward Valentine and his work are not terribly well know today.”
“It is quite possible that his decision to stay here in Richmond and to work in the South may have had something to do with that.”
By 1910 Edward Valentine set aside his career as a sculptor and spent the last twenty years of his life researching the stories and history of Richmond. He had even become president of the Valentine Museum, which his brother started from a personal collection of historical artifacts relating to the city. Today his name is perhaps better known locally for his work with the museum, than a lifetime of work in sculpture.
After his death Ed Valentine was put to rest in the family plot at Hollywood Cemetery. There is no elaborate statue at his grave to signify his life as an artist. It is simple site adorned with only a small bronze plaque.